Benefiting from Our Service Overseer
1 Are we not thankful for the “gifts in men” so kindly provided for the congregations of God’s people throughout the earth in these last days? (Eph. 4:8) Among these gifts are the elders appointed by holy spirit to shepherd the congregation of God. One of the elders in each congregation is selected as service overseer. As in the first century, the various “gifts in men” care for different aspects of the work of the congregation. “He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers, with a view to the readjustment [training] of the holy ones, for ministerial work.”—Eph. 4:11, 12.
2 We can be happy that one of these brothers has been specifically assigned to care for the evangelizing work in the congregation. All dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah in these last days have been assigned a ministerial work to perform. We are ministers of God under command to preach “this good news of the kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) So, as in the first century, we have a qualified brother specifically assigned to aid us in the “ministerial work.”
3 How does he do this? There are several ways. (1) He keeps all of us conscious of the importance of the preaching and disciple-making work. (2) He is concerned that good leadership in the field is being provided in the various book study groups. (3) He is interested in seeing that each of us is given the personal help we need to improve our effectiveness as ministers. Even as in the first century, these “gifts in men” take a personal interest in each individual, “until we all attain . . . to the measure of stature that belongs to the fullness of the Christ; in order that we should no longer be babes.”—Eph. 4:13, 14.
4 How does he care for his responsibilities? First of all, he has very little record keeping to do. Rather, he works with the records that the secretary keeps and this lets him concentrate on helping people. Although he is usually assigned as a book study conductor and spends most of his time with that particular group, he keeps close watch on the overall evangelizing work of the congregation. Whenever he observes a problem involving field activity, in any part of the congregation or in some particular feature of the ministry, he will bring it to the attention of the body of elders with whom he works. He keeps abreast of all organized field service arrangements established within the book study groups and is interested in how well they are supported. He is also a teacher and so his enthusiastic handling of service meeting parts dealing with field service, from time to time, helps to keep all in the congregation readjusted.
5 Once each month he will leave his own group and work with one of the other book study groups for that week. During this time his assistant will care for his group so he can give his full attention to all the needs of the group being visited. He will work with as many in that group as he can during the week. This is a fine time to get his help if we are having any particular problem with service. He is there to help, for he appreciates that all of us are ministers like himself. A special feature of his visit will be at the book study held during that week. It will be shortened to 45 minutes to allow for the service overseer to give an encouraging talk. This Scriptural talk will be designed to help us to improve in our evangelizing work.
6 There will be no formal meeting held between the service overseer and the regular study conductor. However, the service overseer should make inquiry as to the organized service arrangements in effect. He will be interested in knowing how well the arrangements are working and, of course, the conductor will welcome any suggestions he may offer.
7 In large congregations with many book study groups, it will mean that each group may only be visited once or twice a year. Even where there are only a few book study groups, the visits of the service overseer may be months apart. This means we will each want to get the greatest benefit from his visit by giving good support to the field service and the book study that week. By sharing in service with him, by commenting at the study and by giving close attention as he speaks to the group, we will all be showing Jehovah and his Son that we fully appreciate their providing us with overseers to take the lead. Then the purpose of providing such “gifts in men” will be realized as Ephesians 4:15 states: “But speaking the truth, let us by love grow up in all things into him who is the head, Christ.”